A total of 120 schools won’t need to order rice from the supermarkets anymore because they have started to import their own Calrose Rice, under their own label.
The first container of rice with the name ‘Vanuatu Skul Tuketa Coop’ (VSTC) was launched by the Department of Cooperatives and the Executive Committee of VSTC, and witnessed by representatives of the Ministry of Education (MOE) and Teaching Service Commission (TSC) at the Vanuatu Cooperative Business Network Headquarters (former Federation) on Monday.
Both the MOE and TSC congratulate all 120 member schools for their achievement.
MOE representative, Glenden Elisah, says it is a dream come true which will provide healthy competition for the traditional sole importer of Calrose Rice from Australia.
He is optimistic the current price of rice may go down now that the school cooperative imports its own rice, which is likely to be cheaper.
TSC and Department of Education representative, Joseph Timatua, says it is a dream come true for all schools in Vanuatu.
“I stand here today to congratulate the current board members of VSTC for the initiative they dared to take, since it had not been an easy road to travel. The uniqueness of a cooperative is that it is like a garden that you plant and intend to harvest from it at the end of the day”, he says.
He says the MOE and the TSC are confident that each member school will benefit greatly from the new initiative.
“I take this opportunity to also thank the Department of Cooperatives for granting the Skul Cooperative its Business Licence to operate. I for one, also contributed to promoting the awareness towards the cooperative during our TSC trips throughout the country”, he adds.
Timatua challenges all remaining schools to pay their membership fee through the Vanuatu Cooperative Business Network and follow due process to also benefit from what the first 120 member schools are enjoying, beginning this week.
He says the MOE will make sure that what is happening in urban Port Vila will continue to grow into the rural areas to allow all schools to benefit from the cooperative.
Principal of Freshwater Bilingual School and Treasurer Manses Kalo labels the successful arrival of the rice is the result of collaboration between all relevant stakeholders for the last three years.
He appeals to all members to nurture the cooperative towards long term prosperity and calls for cooperative to be considered as part of the national school curriculum.
Registrar and Director of Cooperatives Ridley Joseph says to his staff, “Samting ia mi wantem” (This is what I want to see happen in Vanuatu).
“We have already seen it happen with Tafea Guest House and this last weekend, we have launched the Vanuatu Cooperative Business Network at the Convention Centre, which coincided with the International Day of Cooperatives.
“Over 70 local products were on display to the public, business houses and international dignitaries who attended the first International Cooperative Alliance – Asia Pacific (ICA – AP) Forum for the first time in the Pacific here in Vanuatu at Holiday Inn last week”.
An excited Director Joseph says the cooperative momentum has arrived at a new dawn this week with the arrival of VSTC’s first container of calrose rice for distribution to all 120 member schools.
He thanks the current Chairman and his Committee for their faith and commitment in the initiative, as well as the MOE and TSC for their presence to endorse the services that VTSC is about to provide.
“When I took office, I had this clear vision that regarding a cooperative to be owned by a school, we had to move away from the rice and tinned fish mentality”, he says.
“Now we have moved out of this mentality and registered a school cooperative because I support this fully to enable the people of Vanuatu to enter into a new era.
“And I am proud to say that we have at last moved out and in case you do not know, we have already registered a Water Cooperative, Electrical Cooperative and we are moving into Health Care and Insurance next year”.
To prove that school cooperative is not a new idea, he gives the following classic example, “Malaysia started with eight school cooperatives and now has over 2,300 school cooperatives with over two million members, made up of teaching staff and students”.